168 Lighthouse Drive
Saugerties, NY 12477
Open: Please check the website for hours/Seasonal
Admission: Free for the Grounds/Check the website for the B & B availability
My review on TripAdvisor:
I was recently travelling through Saugerties, New York recently and saw the small sign for the historical Saugerties Lighthouse and decided to take the road path down to the river. This interesting little site is hidden behind a wetlands area and neighborhood of homes and a Coast Guard station.
The Historical Saugerties Lighthouse in Saugerties, NY
I walked through the wetlands park through a pathway of bridges and paths and suggest by the walk do not go after it has just rained. Also do not go after dark as the path is not lite. Still it is fascinating walk through the wetlands passing streams and patches of beautiful flowers and trees. Take your time to admire the flowers and plants along the paths and look at the views of the river as you exit the paths.
The lighthouse itself needs some work but it is elegant old building that sits stately against the mountain views. In the middle of the summer, all the colors are bright and vibrant. You can walk around most of the building but the walkway in the front offers a nice view of the whole structure.
The only way to go inside is to book a room at the B & B so check the website out.
The History of the Saugerties Lighthouse:
(From the Friends of the Saugerties Lighthouse)
The lighthouse was practically a pile of crumbling bricks poised to tumble into the Hudson River, the Saugerties Lighthouse barely escaped the demolition ball in the 1960’s. Today, completely renovated and delighting B & B guests, it stands as a testament to the perseverance and hard work of many dedicated individuals.
The name Saugerties is derived from the Dutch “Zager’s Killetje”, meaning a sawmill on a creek and in fact, there was a mill built on Esopus Creek to harness the creek’s waterpower. The mill formed the cornerstone of a thriving paper industry, which produced as much as eight tons of paper daily, making it one of the leading producers of paper in the 1800’s.
On June 30, 1834, Congress appropriated $5000 for the construction of a lighthouse at the mouth of the creek to guide mariners past the nearby shallows and into Esopus Creek and the busy port of Saugerties. Charles Hooster built the lighthouse on a forty by fifty foot timber-framed pier and its light, produced by five whale oil lamps set in parabolic reflectors, commenced operation in 1835 with Abraham Persons as its first keeper.
A fire in 1848 destroyed the original lighthouse but it was rebuilt on the old site by 1850 at which time four lamps were being displayed from atop the two-story structure. Light lists described the second lighthouse as a “light on keeper’s house.” A sixth-order Fresnel lens replaced the array of lamps and reflectors in the lantern room in 1854.
Ice floes and tidal currents took their toll on the foundation pier and on March 2, 1867, Congress appropriated $25,000 to build a replacement lighthouse just a few yards closer to the shore. This structure, still standing today, was built on a circular granite crib, with a depth of twelve foot and a diameter of sixty feet that rests on fifty-six pilings sunk into the riverbed and topped with three layers of six-inch timbers. The two story lighthouse has twenty-inch thick natural colored brick cavity walls and a sixth-order Fresnel lens cast its beacon from the lantern room. No longer needed, the old wooden lighthouse was sold.
Saugerties Lighthouse was considered a plum assignment due to its proximity to town. In 1888, Saugtegies Harbor was enlarged through the construction of jetties and the keeper’s jaunt to town was made easier when a small road was built along the north jetty to the lighthouse.
The lightkeepers were friendly with their neighbors and even enlisted their help. A neighbor downriver would hand a bed sheet out their window whenever they saw the lighthouse tender coming upriver, giving the lightkeeper about a half-hour notice before the inspector arrived.
Daniel Crowley was serving as keeper of the light when the current brick lighthouse was built. He had been placed in charge of the light in 1865, replacing his father Dennis, who was removed from service after just three months. Daniel’s sister, Katie, grew up at the lighthouse and seemed to be amphibious. She would often venture out into the river along in a skiff and when her little craft was upset, there were no worries as she could swim like a duck. Katie was made the official keeper of the light in 1873 and her lack of fear of the water lead to some remarkable rescues.
Around the turn of the century, the boathouse, located atop the foundation of the first lighthouse, a small island east of the current lighthouse was moved to the circular lighthouse pier. In 1910, a wooden platform was extended from the top of the tower to support a fog bell and an enclosed shaft was mounted below the platform to protect the suspended weights that powered the bell striking mechanism.
Conrad Hawk’s twenty-six year stint as keeper, lasting from 1914 to 1940 was far longer than that of any other keeper of Saugerties Lighthouse. In 1916, his son Earl and daughter Ilal were playing with a small battery and brought it into contact with the large battery used for the station’s fog bell. The resulting short-circuit caused an explosion that blew the battery to pieces, cutting Ilal’s face and produced a current that burned Earl’s arms. Earl nearly lost a big toe in 1922 when his foot came into contact with a boat’s propeller as he tried to climb aboard while swimming near the lighthouse.
Through they both had a few scars, Earl and Ilah survived at Saugerties Lighthouse. Earl Hawk graduated from the Navy’s school at Annapolis and entered the submarine service, while Ilal attended Cortland State teacher’s College and became a physical education instructor. Just before Christmas in 1939, Keeper Hawk’s went to the hospital to receive treatment for stomach ulcers but the treatments failed and he passed away on January 8th, 1940.
When electricity was extended to the lighthouse in the 1940’s, the dwelling was “modernized” with steam heat, plumbing and a telephone. In February 1954, Keeper Ed Pastorini was informed his light would be automated come spring. Wanting to leave the station in tip-top shape, he lovingly painted the three large upstairs bedrooms. Tears flooded his eyes when he closed the door and left the lighthouse for the last time.
The Historic Saugerties Lighthouse in all its beauty
The lighthouse tender soon arrived and its crew tore out the plumbing, furnace and fixtures. In stark contrast to Keeper Pastorini’s care, gallons of water were drained out on the floors and left to soak through the floorboards. The building was sealed up and left to deteriorate which it did quickly.
A decade later, the Coast Guard planned to demolish the vandalized and dilapidated lighthouse, when it stepped Ruth Reynolds Glunt, wife of Chester B. Glunt, a former Coast Guard light attendant stationed at Turkey Point near Saugerties. Mrs. Glunt a longtime friend of many lighthouse keepers along the Hudson River, carried a passion for saving lighthouse and mounted a campaign to halt the demolition. Through her efforts and those of architect Elise Barry, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
The Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy was established in 1985 with the mission to restore and maintain the lighthouse and the following year the conservancy was able to purchase the lighthouse and surrounding wetlands for $1.00. The conservancy received a building on the verge of tumbling down but managed in just a few years to turn it into a beautifully restored lighthouse.
Roughly 10,000 old bricks, which had crumbling after being penetrated by moisture, were replaced. The lantern room was removed and refurbished. Stairs, handrails, floors and walls were completely reconstructed. To top of the transformation, a solar powered light installed in the lantern room by the Coast Guard was activated on August 4th, 1990.
Saugerties Lighthouse furnished in 1920’s decor is now open to the public and welcomes overnight guests as a bed and breakfast. Visitors can walk to the lighthouse along a one half mile long through the Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve, where they will be greeted by a modern day resident keeper who runs the bed and breakfast and maintains the lighthouse.
A big thank you to the Friends of the Saugerties Lighthouse for their dedication in this important site
*This is just a portion of the blog from the Friends of Saugerties Lighthouse. Please see the attached website for more information.